The Importance of Protecting Your Pup’s Paws This Winter

By Chelsea Kun 


Jumping in snow piles, holiday pup cups, and snuggling with a blanket and toy by the fireplace; this can only mean winter has arrived! 

While winter is an exciting time for many pups, there are also some aspects of the season to beware of. Something to especially consider is protection for your pup’s paws, as it is much needed in winter months. 

A dog’s paws coming in direct contact with snow and ice may cause dryness or cracking, or it may even lead to frostbite if the surface is cold enough. Some signs of frostbite include discoloration in the affected area, pain to the touch (which you would know if your pup yelps or pulls away quickly), brittleness, swelling, or blistering, according to VCA Animal Hospitals. 

Consult your vet if you notice any of these symptoms in your pup. Paws are one of the areas on a dog’s body most likely to be affected. 

There are certain dogs more adaptable to cold weather conditions due to their breed history and coat thickness, such as the Siberian Husky, Samoyed, Bernese Mountain Dog, Alaskan Malamute, Newfoundland, and more. Some breeds are not so adaptable, such as the Chihuahua, Bulldog, Doberman, Dachshund, and really most breeds with short coats and thin skin (Though, it doesn’t mean they don’t like the snow).  

Regardless of how adaptable a dog is to winter weather, it never hurts to offer extra protection for their paws. 

Something that can harm all dogs regardless of their winter adaptability is sidewalk salt. Direct contact to your pup’s paws can cause cracking, irritation, and burning. Additionally, if something on a dog’s body is irritating them, one of the first instinctual actions they’ll take is licking it off. Sidewalk salt is full of chemicals toxic to dogs, and when ingested, it could be harmful to their bodies. 

Though it all sounds stressful, there are ways to help your pup’s paws from the winter dangers. For starters, always check their paws after letting them out and going for walks. Brush off any salt or residue, and then wipe them with a warm cloth for extra comfort. Even if your dog comes in direct contact with ice or salt, wiping it off almost immediately should lessen the effects. 

Different retailers also supply paw balms that help as well. Anything petroleum jelly-based, such as Vaseline, would have the same effect. Rub the balm on your pup’s paws before going on walks, and the product will create a barrier protecting them from snow, ice and salt. It will also moisturize the paw pads, preventing dryness and cracking. 

The best protection for paws, though not all dogs enjoy it very much, is socks or booties. Besides the fact that they’re adorable, they completely cover pup paws while outside, offering a strong barrier from all the winter dangers. Give it a try on your dog and see if they like it. They might not at first, but a few try-ons might allow them to become more accustomed to it. 

Above all, the colder it gets, the more important it becomes to not leave your pup outside for extended periods of time. This especially goes for pups with thin coats of fur. If your dog loves the snow, 15-20 minutes of playtime will be sufficient. Also, be aware that smaller dogs, puppies, and senior dogs are more vulnerable to cold weather. 

Enjoy the winter fun with your pup and keep them protected!